SAN JOSE, CA – Happy Hollow Park & Zoo (HHPZ) is helping slow the decline of critically endangered black-and-white ruffed lemurs. Zookeepers and staff are tickled by the wide-eyed male lemur pup born at the Zoo on April 6.
“This pup has stolen our hearts. The best news for species survival is that our veterinary staff has deemed him in good health,” says Heather Vrzal, Zoo Curator. “Our mama lemur was given a comfortable nesting place to care for her pup inside her exhibit, where we could monitor for any signs of health conditions. The baby is very curious and is just starting to poke his head outside the nest box.” Staff has added safety nets inside the exhibit, should the pup get over-zealous and explore too far outside the box.
Newborn lemur pups are born fully furred with open eyes, but do not have the strength to hold on to their mothers for travel. They live in the nest for up to two weeks before the mother carries them to nearby trees while she forages. Black-and-white ruffed lemurs are one of two species of ruffed lemurs found in Madagascar. These primates play an important role in their ecosystem by helping replant vegetation with seeds dispersed in their droppings. Ruffed lemurs are also the largest of the 100 different species of lemurs, typically weighing seven to 10-pounds.
“This isn’t just a cute baby animal story,” says HHPZ Conservation Manager, Charlotte Orr. “This is a conservation story. We have some amazing, endangered animal ambassadors. These animals may have been born in Zoos, but they help us educate visitors about the incredible biodiversity found across the world.”
HHPZ participates in a Species Survival Plan program through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which means the Zoo is home to species that are, or were at some point threatened or endangered in the wild. The Zoo has been AZA-accredited for over 20 years. Accreditation requires rigorous evaluations of the Zoo’s veterinary program, conservation and research efforts, education programs, safety policies and procedures, security, physical facilities, guest services, professionalism of staff, and more.
“Happy Hollow plays a vital role in educating thousands of visitors and children about wild animals, their habitats, and their related conservation issues. This new addition to the Zoo is a wonderful reminder of how our parks educate people of all ages about wildlife conservation, and connect people to nature through play,” said Angel Rios Jr., Director of San José’s Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services.
As for the pup’s name, the public will be given the opportunity to vote for their favorite out of a selection from Zoo staff. Information about how to submit votes will be available on the Happy Hollow Park & Zoo Facebook page the week of April 23.